Midnight. They always came at midnight. The chimes from the old grandfather clock in the den jolted Daniel out of his restless dreams. It wasn't the chimes that woke him so much as the knowledge that They were coming. It was the same horrifying ritual, every single night.
The room was illuminated by an eerie pale green glow. Three figures in haz-mat suits stood around his bed. One of them held a large briefcase, another held a gun, and the third--the apparent leader, from the way he acted--was making entries into a large handheld computer. Daniel tried to escape, to run, to even move, but some unseen force held him in place, as immobile as the bed itself. The leader looked up from his computer and signaled to the one holding the briefcase, who set the case down and began to open it. Daniel strained to see its contents, but couldn't from his position. If only he could move...
The leader reached forward, grabbed the bedcovers and--
The shrill blast of Daniel's alarm clock filled the room. He'd had that dream again, the same one he'd been having every night for nearly a month. Except that it didn't feel like a normal dream. It felt more like a memory, but one that had been partially forgotten. Anyway, Dan had more important things to worry about, so he pushed whatever it was aside for the moment. Today was the last day of school, finally. All he had to do was survive his last few final exams, and he'd be home free. He wasn't about to let a creepy dream get him down.
Dr. DiCaoz glanced over his biology classroom. "Is anybody still working on the final?" he asked tiredly. He paused for a moment, then said, "If everybody is finished, you may talk quietly amongst yourselves for the remainder of the period." As the class erupted in chatter, he went back to nursing his hangover.
Daniel loved his biology class. It wasn't just that he was good at it, or that it was the last class of the day. By some bit of luck or fate, he happened to be in the same class as his four closest friends, Gassan, David, Pammy, and Jake. Gassan, David, and Pammy had become absurdly popular since coming to high school. Gassan was Lebanese and therefore "exotic," David was a star swimmer, and Pammy was a cheerleader. In retrospect, popularity was an inevitability. To the other popular kids, Jake an avid follower of the Furry subculture (he called it a craze, but nobody else did) and Daniel, the introspective writer, were social liabilities. Still, Gassan, David, and Pam never let their newfound "friends" keep them away from Jake and Dan. Privately, Daniel was grateful that he had managed to befriend the four people who appeared to be immune to high school drama.
"So, what'd you guys think?" Pammy whispered.
"I'm pretty sure Dr. Di is a nutcase," Gassan answered quickly. He was met with a chorus of approval from his companions.
"Anyway," Pam continued, "are we having our annual Thank-God-The-Schoolyear's-Over party tonight?"
"I can't go," Jake said, "I've got a convention."
"I can't go either," said David, "My dad's taking me camping. He's on a back-to-nature kick."
"I'm visiting my grandma," Gassan said. Pammy rolled her eyes.
"Alright," she sighed, "when do you guys get back?"
"Sunday, but it'll be late."
"So," Pammy continued, "is Monday night alright with everyone?"
The days passed quickly. By the time Monday arrived, he had gone an entire weekend without his mysterious dreams. He was mostly relieved, but part of him wished the visitors would come back so he could find out what they were up to.
The streets were charged with an eerie calm. A summer storm was coming. As Daniel reached Pam's door, he couldn't help but feel a strange foreboding. Something was decidedly wrong. He rang the bell.
"Come in," called Pammy. Dan opened the door and found friend sitting on the floor in a tidy circle. They were all staring at him, an unsettling hunger in their eyes. "We are playing Truth or Dare," Pammy intoned mechanically. "Please, join us. Truth or Dare?"
"Please choose Dare," Gassan said, in the same unearthly voice.
"The Truth is never any fun," agreed David, still in the same tone. Throughout the exchange, none of the four took their eyes off of Daniel.
"Is everything alright?" he asked. "You all seem...different."
Pammy answered in the same monotone as before: "We are collectively unnerved at a series of recurring dreams we have been having. Perhaps you too are experiencing these visions?"
"Yeah," Dan said, "but I'm not acting that weird about it."
"Perhaps," Pammy said, "All will be made more clear if you answer this simple question: Truth...or Dare?"
Written by Zodiac on 31 May 2008
“It´s been just a dream, just a dream…” Daniel muttered to himself, pacing around his small bedroom. His short hair was damp with sweat, his breathing coming out in small gasps.
“Just a dream…”
The problem was that Daniel didn´t even remember his dream. Only the unsettling presence of them, and that they wanted something from him. During the last few weeks, he had this dream again and again and he never remembered who they were or what they wanted from him.
Only that they wanted it badly.
Running his fingers through his hair, Daniel tried to calm down. It was just a dream, whatever it was about. It probably meant something in dreams theory too, something silly like internalized guilt for not studying hard enough for his tests. It was no big deal.
But he would be really glad if the dreams stopped finally.
Eventually, Daniel went back to bed. No point in loosing whole night worth of sleep over some stupid dream, he thought. He had chemistry test tomorrow, he should sleep a bit before it.
Written by lulu-illussions on 01 January 2018
Daniel had overslept a few minutes, no thanks to the dreams wearing him out, and had to cram down his egg-and-toast to make sure he'd make it to school on time. He was just finishing his breakfast when he heard the harsh signal of the doorbell.
Daniel bounced to his feet and rushed to the front door, brushing his chin to make sure he didn't have any toast crumbs stuck. On the front drive was a delivery-girl, a corrugated board box by her feet. She was short, hardly bigger than a child, and her uniform didn't have the logo of any delivery company he recognised. (But all those were things he would only think about later, after he'd opened the box.)
She asked for his name. “If you'd like to sign here, thank you very much.”
Daniel put a squiggle on her electronic clipboard, his glance resting on the package while he did. It wasn't particularly big, with no markings to hint at what was inside, only an address label with his name.
The woman flashed him a smile and turned back to the road. Daniel hefted the package. Whatever was inside didn't weigh much.
As he carried it up the stairs, he nearly bumped into Mom.
“What's that you got there, Dan?”
“The package.” He couldn't remember having ordered anything. A surprise from one of his friends? That seemed like the most plausible explanation. “It was for me.”
“Which package?” Mom said.
“You know, at the door right now.” He juggled the package to one hand so he could gesture toward the door.
Mom shook her head. “Huh? I didn't hear the bell.”
She shrugged and stood back to let him pass. Daniel stopped for a few moments in the sunlight falling into the upstairs hallway, out of steam, almost forgetting where he was going. Weird recurring dreams were one thing, but it wasn't possible that one person could miss a signal that he'd heard loud and clear.
He dumped the box on his bed. It was real, for sure, tangible enough to leave an impression in the quilt. He gave it a poke, just in case there was a bomb inside – as if that would make a difference after he'd moved it about and carried it. When he looked at his alarm clock, he had a couple minutes to spare, at least enough time to see what was inside.
He cut open the cardboard flaps and folded them back.
Written by on 02 April 2019